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Read Paul Checkley-Clinical Director at Harley Street Hearing and Musicians’ Hearing Services contribution to the Independent’s article on how likely are you, as someone who might enjoy going regularly to gigs and nightclubs, to get tinnitus.

Read the original article on the Independent website.


How likely are you, as someone who might enjoy going regularly to gigs or nightclubs, to get tinnitus, the hearing condition where the high-pitched ringing in your ears after a night of loud music becomes a permanent, often debilitating reality?

The question is an increasingly relevant one for clubbers and festival-goers as high-profile cases of the condition, and a greater understanding of the dangers, if not any reliable cures, have yielded a string of awareness-raising: long features in music magazines, discussions in online music forums and artists affected speaking out, from Larry Heard to Forest Swords to Debonair.

Tinnitus happens as follows: when your ears are exposed to loud noise, the many hair cells in your cochlea, the coiled spiral tube in your inner ear, get “trampled on”, like blades of grass trampled on by shoes. A night of heavy noise results in excessive trampling, and before these hair cells grow back, the cochlea’s ability to send noise signals to the brain is weakened. In response, your brain actively “seeks out” signals from part of the cochlea that still work, and these signals can become over-represented in the brain – this is the imaginary ringing or buzzing noise in the background, or “phantom auditory perception”.

It is increasingly common to see ravers wearing ear plugs in nightclubs across the world

This is why after a night of intense music in a club or at a gig, you can hear that ringing for a day or two as the hair cells in your cochlea grow back. Eventually, with enough instances of trampling, like grass, at some point they don’t grow back and the ringing is permanent. Every tinnitus sufferer’s ringing is different – it can be hissing, bleeping, a metallic clanging. While the effects of tinnitus do usually dampen over time, it can cause sleep problems, stress, anxiety and depression, in the most severe cases. Around 600,000 people in the UK suffer from tinnitus, and though there are plenty of treatments to help deal with the effects, there are as yet no reliable cures.

But at what level of loudness does noise start trampling your ear’s hair cells? An oft-quoted warning is that after exposure of a 100db sound source of over 15 minutes, your ears are “at risk”, whether that be to tinnitus or other types of hearing damage. Sound is measured logarithmically, so for every 3db increase in noise level, the “safe” exposure time is halved.

Given the music at most nightclubs and gigs will be comfortably between 100 and 110db if you are near the speakers – a digital decibel reader above the DJ booth at Corsica Studios in South London measures around 105db consistently for hours on end on a typical night – this isn’t hugely helpful, given no-one wants to be taking breaks every 15 minutes.

That 15-minute, 100db warning is European Union health & safety regulation for employees in high-noise work environments. The ability for a punter to move further away from the speakers is greater for gigs over nightclubs, but for those who want to enjoy dancefloors of that decibel level for long periods, unpicking what the nature and severity of this “at risk” danger is a notoriously elusive exercise.

The frustrating fact is that there is no particular level of noise for any given person that will guarantee tinnitus, and it is different for every raver. One person can go to Fabric for eight hours every weekend for many years and their cochlea’s hair cells always grow back after trampling, while their best friend can contract tinnitus from a single half an hour of Section Boyz at the O2.

Audiologists, in a 2009 review of the research on susceptibility to noise damage, refer to this as “one of the most remarkable features” of noise-induced hearing loss, an extreme “interindividual variability” that means two people exposed to exactly the same level of noise can have wildly different reactions in their ears.

The primary factor that determines a person’s susceptibility is genetic. There is some evidence to suggest that certain environmental factors, such as high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, and smoking, contribute to the risk factor – however the causal link is yet to be defined clearly.

And unfortunately there is also no more than a tenuous link between a healthy lifestyle and avoiding tinnitus; consumption of alcohol and drugs do not increase the risk of tinnitus themselves, only doing so indirectly by making us lower our perception of risks of those around us, whether that be excessive exposure to loud noise or the possibility of being hit by a car if you stumble drunkenly into a busy street.

It is not crystal clear the exact genetic determinant of a person’s susceptibility, though researchers are starting to have some idea. In work done by Action on Hearing Loss, five genes were identified that influence a person’s sensitivity to tinnitus and noise-induced hearing damage in general, related respectively to the supply of potassium, and antioxidants, in a person’s ear. Potassium flows into the hair cells to send information to the brain about noise coming in. Hair cells also produce toxic, oxidised by-products called ‘free radicals’ when they use a lot of energy, and the cells’ process of neutralising them can be overwhelmed.

Genes involved in both the recycling of potassium within the cochlea and the process to deal with ‘free radicals’ determine a person’s susceptibility to noise. However, there’s unfortunately no accessible way to identify a person’s genetic strands that relate to these functions. Knowledge of these processes may be useful in future to develop drugs that target toxic by-products or the deficiency of potassium in the cochlea after a person has suffered noise damage, but so far the drugs are yet to be developed in a reliable way that does not produce harmful side effects.

Can we at least test how damaged a given person’s hair cells are – how much pre-tinnitus trampling they have endured? The most useful test, says audiologist Paul Checkley of Harley Street Hearing, is something called an ‘otoacoustic emission test’, which can show hair cell damage over the respective frequencies for people with early signs of tinnitus. However, it does not reliably measure cumulative “trampling”, and is also not hugely accessible as an informative check-up – appointments and referrals are typically required.

The ability for most people’s hair cells to grow back in their first few years of partying, coupled with the ignorance over the long-term resilience of an individual person’s cells, allows a situation where ravers simply hope they aren’t one of the unlucky ones, and trust the ringing will continue fading away a day after every new exposure. However, many dedicated ravers are becoming socially accustomed to the most reliable significant preventative measure, of wearing ear plugs in nightclubs, especially given the availability of a wide range of options of high-end plugs that do not diminish the immersiveness and quality of sound.

Taking breaks, says spokesperson for Action on Hearing Loss Gorki Duhra, is also key, as persistent exposure without breaks denies your cochlea’s ability to regrow hair cells. Going for a cigarette break every hour is, conveniently, being kind to your ears. Before the research on genetic susceptibility and reliable cures develops further, such preventative self-care is a wise idea.

Hear Here, London’s social network for those affected by hearing loss, celebrated it’s first anniversary at JP Morgan’s in Bank Street.

We were joined by over 100 friends for an evening of networking and exchanging ideas with BSL interpreters.

Inspirational speakers included:-

  • Andrey Erofeev – JP Morgan employee talking about his experiences with hearing loss
  • Gianluca Trompetta – founder of Hearing Hacks and Get Super Human Hearing
  • Karian Hojgaard– from the REGAIN project
  • Jaspreet BahraHear Here creator and Harley Street Hearing Senior Audiologist
  • Nicholas Hamilton – Executive Director of JP Morgan – the evening’s sponsor

Anyone wanting to join our next Hear Here evening please click here

Jaspreet Bahra

Gianluca Trombetta

Andrey Erofeev

Karian Hojgaard

Nicholas Hamilton

When I lost the hearing aid for my left ear I was referred to Harley Street Hearing through my insurers. When the replacement arrived I saw Matthew Allsop, who first of all tested my hearing and then, using state-of-the-art technical equipment and his considerable expertise, made initial adjustments to both aids.
The brain has to adapt over a period so inevitably there were more appointments and further adjustments.
I have severe hearing loss but now my hearing with my existing aids is far, far better than it was before I became Matthew Allsop’s patient. From the start I had complete faith in him. He has shown great patience throughout. I shall be guided by him when I upgrade to new instruments.
It seems the loss of the left hearing aid has proved a blessing in disguise. ***** reviewDorothy Sharp
Établie sur la rue Harley Street depuis 25 ans, nous sommes une clinique indépendante d’audiologiste et un leader en professionels de l’audition à Londres.
Si vous vous interrogez sur votre ouïe, veuillez nous contacter. Notre clinique dispose de services en français offerts par un audiologiste francophone, Jordon Thompson.
Nos services comprennent des évaluations audiologiques, des réparations aux aides auditives, la gestion du cérumen, la thérapie des acouphènes et la protection auditive fait sur mesure.

I began playing electric guitar in my teens, and have been touring with my band, The Boomtown Rats, since 1974, which means my ears have been subjected to high volumes of sound for most of my life.

About four years ago, I became aware that I was finding it increasingly difficult to take part in group conversations.  I couldn’t hear clearly what people were saying, and, rather than continuously asking everyone to repeat themselves, or telling them off for their poor diction, I would often limit myself to smiling and nodding, sometimes inappropriately, instead of being an active participant.  The television at home would always be at close to maximum volume, with the treble turned up full, and it was the same when I listened to music.  I even got rid of a nice acoustic guitar, as I thought it had begun to sound dull.

My father suffered from deafness from his mid-fifties but he was too proud to use the hearing aids which were available at the time. I had some sympathy with him, as they were the sort of bulky, ugly appliances which have given rise to the expression “hearing-aid beige”. However, it was sad to see him become more and more isolated and I did not want to go the same way as him.

Eventually, I accepted that I must have a problem with my own hearing. A friend told me that a guitar hero of mine, who I knew suffered from deafness as a result of being exposed to ridiculous levels of onstage volume since the 1960s, had been to Harley Street Hearing and was now using Phonak hearing aids, so I telephoned them and made an appointment for a hearing assessment. This turned out to be the best thing I have done for myself in a very long time.

I now use a pair of Phonak hearing aids, which are practically invisible, and they have transformed my life. I can now hear the full spectrum of audible frequencies and can enjoy the beautiful sound of my Martin acoustic guitar again.

Thank you, Harley Street Hearing!

Garrick Roberts

 

The team at Harley Street Hearing have decided to run a 10k for Hearing Dogs for Deaf people on the 16th September.

Thousands of people suffer from hearing loss and a hearing dog can give back confidence to individuals who may feel isolated.

It takes thousands of pounds to train a hearing dog so please dig deep and give generously.

If you’d like to support this worthy cause please click here

Until now hearing aids were only available to connect to smart phones.

Phonak has now created a hearing aid Audeo B-Direct which connects directly to any mobile phone, regardless of the brand or operating system, as long as it has Bluetooth®, you’re good to go.

 

Audéo B-Direct also easily connects to your TV.  This is achieved using a small media hub, called Phonak TV Connector, turning the hearing aids into wireless TV headphones. You can now enjoy excellent stereo sound quality from your TV while those around you can listen at a comfortable volume level.

No need to stop what you’re doing to answer your mobile, you can now take calls hands-free directly though your hearing aids.

 So if you’d like to be one of the first to trial this hearing aid; or perhaps you don’t have hearing aids but feel now now is the time to get your hearing (or even a family member’s hearing) tested.
 

Call us, we are London’s leading independent hearing clinic on 020 7486 1053,  or fill in the form below.  We’ll be delighted to see you.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Clinical Director Paul Checkley was interviewed by Global News after a new, international study concluded that up to a third of dementia cases might be preventable; with hearing loss being the TOP modifiable dementia risk.

The findings from an international commission of 24 leading experts from around the world were published in the prestigious journal, The Lancet.

Many people don’t realise that they risk loosing much more than their hearing.  Hearing loss can lead to isolation and depression and put you more at risk of dementia.  Anyone who has concerns that their hearing is not what it used to be should get their hearing tested.  Please complete the contact form below.

Harley Street Hearing are London’s leading independent hearing clinics.

We have clinics in Harley Street, Herne Hill and Golders Green.


Herne Hill

Please contact us on 020 7486 1053 or send us an email below for more information.
  • Please contact us on 020 7486 1053 or send us an email below for more information.
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We are London’s leading independent hearing clinics and have been established on Harley Street for over 25 years.

At Harley Street Hearing we know that customer care is fundamental to a successful audiology clinic.

Having a hearing loss can be isolating and hard to accept, because of this we treat every patient with care and understanding, and pay particular attention to their individual hearing needs.

The majority of our patients come to us by recommendation or by referral from some of the most well-known ENT specialists in the UK.

As we are completely independent we will choose hearing aids which specifically match your personal requirements.  We work with all the major hearing aid manufacturers in the UK and have clinics at 129 Harley Street, Golders Green and Herne Hill.

Come in for a hearing consultation with one of Highly Trained Audiologists or call us with any hearing concerns we’ll be happy to help.

For more information on specific types of hearing aids click here

We have highly trained Hearing Therapists who can help manage your Tinnitus, our Clinical Ear Practitioners provide instant wax removal and we can also help with any bespoke hearing protection.

Call 020 7486 1053 or fill in the form below.

Congratulations to Sophie Biebuyck & Ed Rex for their winning pics of Hear Here’s 2nd social evening.

Hear Here is a social network especially for Londoners with a hearing loss, created by Harley Street Hearing.  Both Sophie & Rex received a bottle of champagne courtesy of Ernst & Young, sponsors of the event.

To join us and have details of future events follow us on Facebook or contact us 

 

Microsuction Harley Street HearingMicrosuction available at our London clinics at 129 Harley Street or Golders Green for £80.

Wax blocking the ear canal can be annoying and frustrating. We provide a safe and effective ear care service.  No need to wait weeks to see your GP, you can normally be seen within 24 hours.

Microsuction is the most effective and quickest form of wax removal.  Wax can be removed more easily and quickly if you use softening drops, or olive oil, prior to your appointment; but this is not always necessary.

We offer the full range of ear care techniques including Irrigation and instrumentation.

For more information on both methods click here or call 020 7486 1053 to book the next available appointment.

Over 100 attended our 2nd Hearing Loss social networking event.   A wonderful social evening held in London Bridge at Ernst & Young HQ.  Speakers included actresses Jessica Jane Stafford & Genevieve Barr, Dr Lorraine Gailey – Chief Executive of Hearing Link & Sarah Petherbridge – Co-Chair of Ability EY.
Paul Checkley, Harley Street Hearing’s Clinical Director said “we were delighted to see so many people come along to share their experiences and make new friends with a mutual bond.”  The evening raised £500 for Action on Hearing Loss, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and National Deaf Children’s Society and was kindly sponsored by Ernst & Young.
If you’d like to join our next event please contact us or follow our facebook page here.

 

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